GAZA — At Gaza’s only girls’ boxing club, 15-year-old Farah Abu al-Qamsan practices her moves, jabs and punches with other girls training with coach Osama Ayoub at the Palestine Boxing Center.
Since taking up the sport at the age of nine, Farah has found release from the daily stresses of life in Gaza, the narrow coastal strip where some 2.3 million Palestinians live under blockade by both Israel and neighboring Egypt.
“We used to train in a small garage. Now we train according to complete rules and release bad energy,” said a 15-year-old girl at the area’s first women-only boxing center.
Ayub started with two girls six years ago. As more joined, they moved out of the garage and began training on the beach or in rented spaces before moving into the new clubhouse.
“The girls are ready. I trained them hard for five years,” Ayub said. “We are setting an example.”
About 40 girls now train with their full-size boxing rings, training equipment and posters of boxing heroes like Mike Tyson on the walls, in a region where boxing has traditionally been a man’s sport.
“Some people used to say to me, ‘Why boxing, what will it do you, go and learn something,'” Farah said. To represent and participate in the World Championships.”
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